LONDON: Brands need to take a lead in challenging prejudices in society and can leverage consumer insights to do so, according to a leading Procter & Gamble executive

"At P&G we have taken our own responsibility with Ariel, Pantene, Always, to use the weight of our advertising to fight against bias in society," said Sophie Blum, VP/Marketing in Europe & IMEA for Procter & Gamble.

"You cannot be a leading brand and not take responsibility," she told Marketing Week.

Much has been written about P&G's award-winning #Likeagirl campaign for Always, its feminine hygiene brand.

"A brand like Always is rooted in deep consumer insight with a brand purpose that is to empower girls and women, there to challenge, to take a stand and to be the voice of millions of women," Blum explained. "And it has been a fantastic success."

The original program, based around changing negative stereotypes about what it means to do things "like a girl", made a significant impact on girls across the US and the brand has explored ways to build on that success.

One bold step was to take the campaign to new and unlikely places, such as the Super Bowl, which not only generated many more views of the original video but sparked the sort of cultural change the brand is seeking.

"Two-thirds of men who watched the video said they would stop or think twice before using 'like a girl' as an insult," Amanda Hill, Procter & Gamble's Brand Director/North America/Feminine Care, told a conference audience earlier this year.

Always has also worked with new partners, including academics and thought leaders, to develop a "confidence curriculum" that helps girls, parents and teachers view confidence as a skill that can be taught.

None of this activity will work, however, unless it is authentic to the brand and its strategy, Blum warned.

"If [your brand strategy] is anchored to consumer understanding you are going to be able to define a strategy that in the short term will attract consumers and in the long term bring them back," she said.

Data sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff